More than a memoir—this book is a promise of hope for anyone who was abandoned as a child, to anyone who woke up hungry and went to bed hungrier every day, for every wife who has loved a husband who left bruises on her heart and on her body.
Somewhere between stealing cold cuts from stray cats and watching a stranger leave her mother’s bed after breaking in through their bedroom window, Mary figured out that her family was dirt poor. Worse than her empty stomach, she was hungry for acceptance and love. She thought she found it when her baby sister was born and she became her “mommy”, taking care of her needs as best she could at the age of seven. Then she had to say goodbye over a small white casket.
Mary’s grandparents, first generation immigrants from Puerto Rico, took her in and gave her a glimpse of faith and stability. For a brief, shining spell, she had a real home—until they decided that Mama needed her. They may have been right, but Mama needed more than a little girl could give and Mary lost her way again.
Just out of Juvy Hall, Mary found a knight in shining armor to take her away. She became a teenage bride to a man twice her age—a man as deeply enslaved to booze as every “step-dad” she’d had as a child. She loved him anyway, even wearing the bruises he gave her, even when she tried to leave him to give their children a better life. Despite her fear and loneliness, she never imagined it would take a gunshot in the middle of the night to teach her courage. She was even more surprised when rediscovered faith paved the path to forgiveness after so many years of pain.
Running in Heels is a memoir of the grit and grace that carried a young girl through the shadows of her mother’s choices and on through an abusive marriage. Mary A. Pérez narrates an incredible story of survival in the face of hopelessness, and learning to forgive against all odds.
A story of coming of age, and coming into grace.
I was recently asked to review a memoir by a woman I do not know personally. I had actually never heard of her before that initial contact and accepted a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. Although I once turned away all requests for reviews – only reviewing books of my choosing – I have slowly begun to accept requests. I have come across a few good indie reads and a few not so good. Her book sounded interesting, so I agreed.
Running In Heels is not good because the reader will learn all the juicy tidbits they’ve come to expect from a celebrity autobiography. It’s not good because her story is unique or made national headlines and is in any way familiar to us. It’s good because (but for the grace of God) it could have been anyone’s story. It’s relateable. It’s emotional. It’s raw. And today, it’s something that happens far too often.
Mary takes us on a journey that begins with her early childhood and ends with present day, hitting all of the life-changing elements without adding the unnecessary tidbits that would bore a reader. In a candid delivery she shares what it’s like to grow up without food. What it’s like to grow up too fast. What it’s like to love and dislike a person at the same time. We feel her loss, we share her pain, and we root for her to rise above.
Told in first person, Mary recounts many of the most emotional, painful stories of her life. She calls out others (including family members) on their part in her pain, but she also shares her own faults and mistakes. She credits those who made her life sane.
Mary shows us how to love someone who is less-than-worthy, how to look past a person’s flaws to find their heart, and how to forgive those who have caused the most pain. She teaches us that even though you may be a damaged soul, there is life and light if you allow God to lead the way.
This is not a religious book, per say, although Mary’s faith is evident once she decides to follow. She shares many heart-breaking stories, but I think it was her happy-ending that stirred the most emotion in me.
There were a few slow spots, but there wasn’t one that took away from the read. Before I reached the point where I wanted to start skimming, the pace picked up and the story continued to move along at a steady tick.
I know that most recommendations for ‘great reads’ go to well-known authors while indie authors are challenged with getting their books into readers’ hands. I hope that if even in a small way, I can help Mary to do that. This was truly an enjoyable, well-told story and one I think many people would relate to. Highly recommended.